Oklahoma is a truly beautiful state, and once you find the hidden gems in this area of the country, we are certain you’ll agree. From amazing hiking trails to incredible waterfalls, there are so many beautiful natural attractions in this state, there’s never an excuse to spend your days stuck inside.
Wondering where to find all of this natural beauty? Below are 9 of our favorite outdoor locations in the state of Oklahoma. Check these off your bucket list for starters, and then explore on your own to see what other beauties you can find in the Oklahoma nature.
#1: Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
Most people assume Oklahoma is nothing more than miles and miles of empty plains. This isn’t true however, and the Wichita Mountains are happy to prove this misconception wrong. These gorgeous mountains may not be the biggest out there, but they certainly are lovely to look at and fun to explore.
At the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, you can see American Bison roaming the grasses, climb to the top of a mountain, or hop in a crystal lake. The trails on this refuge will lead you to some truly spectacular views, and the clear skies provide the perfect location for stargazing.
#2: Black Mesa Area
The Black Mesa area is a small taste of the American West right here in the state of Oklahoma. This gorgeous area features a mesa that rises up from the Oklahoma plains to reveal absolutely gorgeous rock colors and formations.
The hike to the top of this mesa is easy enough, with a small challenge toward the end of the hike as you scramble to reach the top. That said, that bit of extra challenge is well worthwhile because the view from the top is incredible.
We recommend taking this hike in the late afternoon so you can catch the beginning of the spectacular Oklahoma sunset before heading back down.
#3: Great Salt Plains Wildlife Refuge and State Park
Located in Jet, Oklahoma, Great Salt Plains State Park is truly a wonder to behold. The enormous, 11,000 square miles of plains are covered in a layer of salt which was deposited there by an inland sea thousands of years ago. It is white, dusty, and almost eerie to see. The nearby lake also contains salt and is estimated to be about half as salty as the ocean.
Visitors to this area enjoy swimming at the fabulous swimming beach, bird watching, and fishing. Of course, everyone who visits must also experience digging for salt crystals. Oklahoma is the only place in the world that these crystals can be found, and they are so easy to dig up, you’re likely to leave with dozens.
#4: Natural Falls State Park
Home to one of the state’s largest waterfalls, Natural Falls State Park is a great place to bring the family for a nature adventure.
The falls flow through rock formations before dropping down into a lush little nook that is a nature lover’s paradise. Hiking trails give visitors an opportunity to explore the area, and many animals call the park home.
Unfortunately, no swimming is allowed in the pristine waters of this park, but the views are well worth the stop.
#5: Beavers Bend State Park
A beautiful river offering opportunities for fishing and kayaking, spectacular rock formations, and solo, dark wooded areas all make Beavers Bend State Park one of the very best parks in the state.
Eagle watches and guided horseback rides are perfect for the animal lovers in your group, and the well-stocked nature center offers plenty of other activities for all ages throughout the year.
Of course, the best thing to do in this fantastic park is get outside and enjoy the views, which are amazing. Camp overnight for a truly immersive outdoor experience you won’t soon forget!
#6: Talimena National Scenic Byway
Stretching from eastern Oklahoma to western Arkansas, Talimena National Scenic Byway is the perfect way to take in the majesty of these states. Plan a road trip for the late fall season when the colors along the byway are vibrant and beautiful.
Be sure to leave plenty of time to get out and hike on the many trails along the way, and bring a camera so you can take photos as the scenery goes from flat to mountainous and the trees display their gorgeous reds and oranges.
#7: Gloss Mountains
Also known as the “Glass” Mountains, the Gloss Mountains actually aren’t mountains at all. Instead, they are a series of mesas and buttes which jut up dramatically from the surrounding flatland. Sparkling selenite crystals adorn the sides and tops of each structure, creating a shining effect in the sunlight.
Gloss Mountain State Park in Fairview is probably the best place to stop and catch a glimpse of this natural wonder. The park has trails to help you hike to the top of the formations, offering amazing views to anyone who makes it to the top. That said, the hike up is a bit difficult, so come prepared to work for those views!
#8: Chickasaw National Recreation Area
From Antelope Springs to the Little Niagara Falls waterfall area, this park is definitely water-focused. People love swimming here, the nature center is full of learning opportunities, and the 20 miles of hiking trails give plenty of chances for exploration of the park and all its flora and fauna. Of course, the fact that wild bison roam free can also make a visit to this park extra exciting.
We recommend visiting this park in summer for the fantastic swimming and playing in the waterfalls. That said, many people also enjoy visiting in fall when the trees are changing colors, giving the woods a magical glow.
#9: Little Sahara State Park
A strange little park you’d never expect to find in Oklahoma, Little Sahara State Park is absolutely full of beautiful and oddly out-of-place sand dunes. The dunes are actually remnants of prehistoric times. During this time, a river flowed over the entire area. Now the dunes are used for recreation, and people visit each and every weekend to hit the sand in their ATVs.
These sand formations are amazing to see, and something every Oklahoman should check out at some point.